In an interview yesterday with Breitbart “News” Daily, Dr. Ben Carson told host Stephen Bannon that American Muslims who tried to embrace an American value like democracy while practicing Islam would have to be “schizophrenic.” Because the two, as he Islamsplained, were in no way compatible.
I know, I know. I had the same reaction: Ben Carson is still running for President?!
I’m not sure if he’s knocking Muslims because it draws headlines and might generate some buzz; because he actually, genuinely believes this stuff; or because the audience reaction to inflammatory statements wakes him up. Could be it’s all three. Needless to say it resonates with his base even as it offends everyone who isn’t some kind of religious bigot.
To me, schizophrenia is a serious condition, not to be made light of, least of all by a healthcare professional. And, of course, for a deeply conservative Christian who refuses evidentiary determinations even as the same kinds of determinations made him famous, wealthy and once, long ago, well-regarded, to claim American Muslims who are trying to fuse religion and state are the ones who are schizophrenic is, well, schizophrenic.
By his own definition at least.
But I don’t think Ben Carson’s comment is Islamophobic.
I actually think it is two kinds of awesome.
You see, our reputation as Americans who choose to be, happen to be, or are identified by airport security as Muslims, is pretty much in the tank. Like the septic tank. We’re so far down that calling us mentally ill is actually a step up, a hand reaching down to us in the muck.
First, it might generate sympathy. You know, it’s not our fault we’re this way, we just have a genetic predisposition to Islam, which of course is “a religion of domination” according to one Christian candidate in a supposedly strongly Christian party whose various candidates have openly discussed war crimes, torture, invasion, summarily deporting people, selling weapons freely and carpet-bombing. As policies. That they look forward to.
But if we’re schizophrenic, all we have to get is the right medication, or perhaps in-patient treatment. Whereas Trump might deport us, or detain us, Carson will at least hospitalize us. Which will be interesting to experience because every other American Muslim I knew growing up was a doctor, training to be a doctor, wishing they’d become a doctor, or berated for not becoming a doctor. But sometimes, you know, they say doctors are the worst patients.
Second, “schizophrenia” is actually an improvement in the media representation of American Muslims, most of whom are people of color.
When a Muslim commits a crime, it’s terrorism. Religiously motivated. Automatically. When a white Christian male kills people, and even claims he’s doing it in the name of God, he’s “misunderstood,” “mentally ill,” or “troubled.” People of color, and other marginalized minorities, haven’t enjoyed the luxury of that definition. Until now. With one remark, Carson elevated the American Muslim to the level of the white male majority.
Finally, he’s taking a stand against racism, bigotry and marginalization. Thanks Mr. Carson. Even though a Muslim’s going to be President before you will be, that’ll only be because of the doors you’ve opened to us.